The third anniversary of the arrest of seven leaders of the Baha’i faith came amid news of three new arrests of Baha’i citizens and the expulsion of two Bahai’i students from Qeshm University. In light of these events, recent statements about the situation of Baha’is in Iran made by various groups and organizations all over the world hold increased importance. As Iran continues to intentionally target the persecution of its Baha’i population, it’s crimes have begun to attract increased condemnation and attention from all levels of civic society around the world.

On June 17th, several activist organizations in the United Kingdom hosted a seminar in the Houses of Parliament that “explored the crisis of human rights in Iran”. It was attended by Nazila Ghanea, the editor of the Journal of Religion & Human Rights, by women’s rights activist Shadi Sadr, and Member of Parliament Louise Ellman, among others. The seminar emphasized that the religious persecution and harassment are instigated and propagated by the Iranian regime, which often harasses businesses, universities and other members of civil society to get rid of individuals who belong to “deviant groups”, such as Baha’is.

Meanwhile, on June 20th a group of about 800 people rallied in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to support the human rights of “deviant groups”. In honor of Brazil’s thriving Baha’i population, the rally was attended by representatives of the government, many of Brazil’s religious communities, and many civil society organizations.

In a poignant display of solidarity, 8,000 pictures of the faces of the seven arrested Baha’i leaders were on display on the beach, to correspond with their 8,000 days of imprisonment. Brazilian congressman Chico Alencar summed up the message of the day with his statement, ”Religious freedom is something that cannot be touched.”

On June 28th, one of the lawyers of the seven Baha’i leaders tried to convince the European Parliament meeting in Belgium to demand such religious freedom from Iran. In a passionate speech, Mahnaz Parakand stated that the expectation of the people of Iran is “not to be left alone by the governments and international organizations whose primary policy is the respect of humanity and human rights…”

And Iran most certainly should not be left alone. Even as two more Baha’is arrested in the raid on the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education are released, more remain in Iranian prisons even after the international community took a strong stance against the arrests. Iran’s human rights abuses must continue to be condemned, and we must extend our solidarity to the Baha’i community from all levels.